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Closing Time: Sox go 0-for-11 with RISP to spoil solid Lackey start

04.30.11 at 10:17 pm ET
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Call it missed opportunities (yes, plural). Call it not performing in the clutch. Call it leaving ducks on the pond.

However you want to characterize Saturday’s Red Sox’ loss at the hands of the Mariners, it will still go down in the books as a 2-0 shutout loss in which the Hometowne Team went a putrid 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-4 with the bases juiced.

Lost in the effort was a solid six-inning, two-run performance out of John Lackey. Lackey had his third quality start in a row to lower his season ERA – which stood at 15.58 before the streak – to a much nicer number of 5.65. With the loss, he drops to 2-3 after the month of April. Seattle starter Doug Fister went 5 2/3 strong, allowing five hits and five walks while striking out four. Seattle closer Brandon League worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season.

Boston finishes April with an 11-15 record while Seattle finishes 13-15. Here’s what went wrong and what went right for the Red Sox in their loss.

WHAT WENT WRONG

-A David Ortiz strikeout and J.D. Drew flyout to center with the bases juiced in the first. Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis going down in order following a Jacoby Ellsbury double in the third. A Carl Crawford flyout to right with Jed Lowrie on second in the fourth. Gonzalez’s lineout/double play with the bases loaded in the fifth and Youkilis’s consequent foul out right after. Lowrie’s flyout to center and Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s foul out with a man on second in the sixth. Ortiz’s flyout to left with runners on second and third in the seventh.

Get the picture?

The Red Sox bats were absolutely dreadful when they had the best chances to score runs. Boston is now hitting .212 (52-for-245) on the season with runners in scoring position and .241 (7-for-29) when the bases are full of Boston ballplayers.

-Lackey’s four walks were a season-high and his most since Aug. 2 of last year in a 6-5 loss to the Indians. His first walk, in fact, was to Ichiro in the third inning and led to the game’s first run. After throwing 108 pitches over eight innings in his last start, it appeared he had the stuff to pitch a similar length, but four walks in six innings led to 113 pitches, forcing the starter out.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

-Although much of the focus will be on how inadequate the Sox bats were in the clutch, Lackey performed more than admirably even in the most dire of straits. In his six innings, he forced Mariners hitters to strand nine of their own men on base including six in scoring position.

Behind him, Hideki Okajima (1.2 IP, 0 H, 1 K) and Dan Wheeler (1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) kept the Mariners at bay and at least gave the Sox a chance as the game came to a close.

-Every member of the Sox starting nine reached base at least once, except for Ortiz who finished 0-for-4.

-Ellsbury (nine games) and Gonzalez (seven games) both extended their own hitting streaks in the first three innings.

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